Composting begins in dorms

GVL/ Rane Martin
Junior Damaris Shaffer does her part by throwing her trash into the compost trash bin.

Rane Martin

GVL/ Rane Martin Junior Damaris Shaffer does her part by throwing her trash into the compost trash bin.

Samantha Belcher

The Grand Valley State University Sustainable Community Development Initiative and Bart Bartels, sustainability manager for the SCDI, have teamed up with the Frederick Meijer Honors College to create two new composting initiatives on campus.

Fifty student volunteers from the honors college will collect compostable material from student residences and dining places around campus to later convert into fertilizer.

“Students save everything but glass, plastic and metal, then place the contents in a paper bag,” Bartels said. “Every few days, the paper bags are taken out to compost bins. Students transport the compost to Spurt Industries where it is turned into other materials such as fertilizer.”

Since the project began at the beginning of this fall semester, about 200 gallons of compost a week have avoided ending up at landfills and have instead been converted into useful materials.

The project does not require any monetary assistance from the university or the groups involved.

“This is the beauty of the project,” Bartels said.

Bartels said he decided to work with Honors College students because they were open to new ideas.

“I like their willingness to participate,” he said. “And besides, I am also an Honors resident so it seemed like a natural place to start.”

Students working with the project said they will continue as long as it continues to be a success, and they hope to expand to other parts of the campus to get more GVSU community members involved.

Through this project, students get the opportunity to help the environment and learn more about it.

“I am hoping they all learn they can make a difference, because they have,” Bartels said.

He and his team are not the only Honors College members involved in new sustainable projects. The Honors course “Live, Learn, Lead,” is spearheading a separate composting project, collecting pizza boxes around campus to compost them.

Pizza boxes were chosen because “pizza is a common choice of food for freshman living in the various residence halls on campus,” said Bill Ghooly, student leader of the project.

The class is divided into three subcommittees, with two of the groups working with the North and South campus community councils. Together they are informing students about the project and determining where the bins will be placed.

They are also working with GVSU’s Housing department to inform students about where the composting bins will be located.

The third group is contacting local pizza restaurants and giving them maps to where pizza boxes can be composted on campus in an effort to reach out into the community.

Ghooly said the students are hoping to take pizza boxes out of the landfill stream and into the compost stream.

“I think the idea of implementing a composting plan for these pizza boxes is an easy way for students to be more environmentally friendly,” Ghooly said. “I believe we can achieve a high level of participation.”

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